This lesson discusses the different standards available when assigning grades. It specifically highlights weighting grades, the point percentage standard, and grading on a curve.
Despite what some students might believe, teachers don't just hand grades out willy-nilly. Quite the contrary, an effective educator spends a good deal of time mulling over the standards he or she will use when assigning grades. To go over some of these options, today's lesson will take a look at standards to be considered when assigning grades.
The first standard to be considered when assigning grades is in no way an optional one. To state it simply and directly, grades must adhere to the policies set forth by your school. In other words, your grading standards must fall in line with what the guys at the top have decided. If your superintendent says grades will be calculated using a standard percentage, your grades better be calculated by percentage. If the school board says grades must be weighted, then your grades better be weighted. What is decided at the top must be adhered to by the middle and the bottom. It's just how the system goes.
Now, if your higher-ups haven't gotten that involved in the grading process, you have some leeway. Since there are many, many options to choose, we'll spend the rest of the lesson discussing a few of the most popular. Also, like most things in education, these standards can go by different names depending on the educational institution.
As an educator, you may choose to use the weighted standard of grading. Describing this very simply, it's making some graded components count as more than others. Used by educators all over the place, weighting allows educators to place greater emphasis on certain activities.
For example, this semester, I'm teaching a graduate education course. Since one of my objectives is to have students engage in meaningful discussions, I have weighted discussion forums as 70% of the final grade. Yes, I do want them to know some key terms and facts, but since it's not as important as the discussion component, these more traditional activities will only make up 30% of their final grade. In short, the tests and quizzes just won't carry as much weight, hence the term 'weighted standard of grading.'
Point Percentage Grading
Many educators also choose the no-frills point percentage grading standard of grading. Familiar to almost anyone who's a product of public education, this one simply entails all graded activities being added together then divided by the total number of points available. Tests don't count for more and class participation doesn't count for less. Here's an example:
If a quiz was worth 10 points and a student only got 9, and a test was worth 100 and the student only got 90, we'd add points earned (90 + 9) and we get 99. We'd then add up the total possible points (10 + 100) and we'd get 110. We'd then divide 99 by 110, and our student would earn the percentage grade of 90. Like the name implies, it's all just a matter of points and percentages.
Grading on a Curve
Perhaps as the student favorite, we now come to the ever popular grading on a curve. As the name implies, this is assigning grades based on a predetermined distribution of grades among students. In other words, manipulating grades to make sure they fall along the simple bell curve. Here's a very simple and widespread example of a grading on the curve in action.
Let's say a test is unusually difficult and the teacher knows this going in. Rather than seeing a majority of students fail, the instructor will choose to employ the curve. He'll take the highest grade, let's say it's a 70%, and he'll add 30 points to bring the 70 to 100. He'll then take that 30 points and add it to everyone else's grades. Now instead of having everyone fall on the fail side of the curve, student grades will be distributed more evenly.
When using this standard, educators need to face the fact that grading on the curve doesn't really reflect how much content has actually been mastered. It more reflects how well a student did in comparison to others. No, it's not really the most valid standard, but it sure is a fan favorite.
When assigning grades, a teacher must make sure his or her grading method adheres to institutional policies. Once this standard is met, an instructor must choose a standard measure for grading.
An educator may choose the weighted standard of grading. This entails making some graded components count as more than others.
A teacher may also choose point percentage grading standard of grading. Using this standard, all graded activities are added together then divided by the total number of points available.
An instructor may also assign grades using the popular method of grading on the curve. This encompasses assigning grades based on a predetermined distribution of grades among students.